I have avoided politics on this blog even though I have a lot to say on the topic. That isn’t the purvue of this publication. However, I, like anyone else who pays any attention to public affairs, have been asked to consider The Big Question: (which I take the liberty here to correct for accuracy): Am I better off now than I was when the current president took office?
Well, let’s see . . . .
Since the current president took office, I started my own small business, Yeldagalga Publications, LLC. Through it, I’m expanding on my freelance Web design work, and helping authors prepare their writing for print-on-demand publishing.
I didn’t seek any loans or grants to start the business. I started it using our own funds. An investor injected a small amount of capital—$500—but I didn’t need that investment to get started, it was just a good opportunity for both of us at the time. By the next year, I showed a net profit. Clients are fairly thin on the ground, since people are nervous about spending money, and I’m overly forthcoming with answers to casual questions that allow friends and family to proceed without needing to hire me. I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve been hired to do, and the clients seem to be as well. I have a real advantage in having almost no operating costs and low living expenses, which allows me to charge much lower fees than most people in my line of work.
The skills I use in my business are largely self-taught. I’ve acquired these skills through my own initiative, rather than learning them in school.
Earlier this year, Michelle applied for and got a part time job in town. It pays well, provides some benefits, and brings her into contact with new people, which she loves.
None of this is making us rich monetarily, but it pays the bills, and meets our financial needs.
Aly entered college in this same period. She paid for her first year through scholarships and work, and has just paid for the coming term. She’s signed a couple of student loans, but not the higher interest loans we hear about on the news.
Anything else? A lot of public policy decisions and homeland security issues have been addressed to my satisfaction, but all that has little direct impact on our lives here, so I won’t go into detail.
So yes, my family is better off now than we were in 2009.
BUT . . .
I should point out that we took possession of the homestead during the housing crash that occurred under the previous administration. We managed to procure the property despite steep downward national trends. We paid off both the old mortgage and the new one, so we never faced any problems with housing debt. We survived the financial crash. It did wipe out a lot of our retirement savings, but we weren’t really relying on it. And, incidentally, we never qualified for the tax rebates that “everyone” got back then.
We looked after our own interests. We eliminated debt. We pared down expenses to a minimum. We get much of our food from our own efforts rather than paying someone else to provide it. Our jobs offer services that enough people want or need that they’ll pay for it, even in a bad economy.
In other words, we’re not the kind of people who expect or demand that the President of the United States make things “all better” for us. The president isn’t responsible for whether we succeed or fail, we are. Yes, some policies affect us directly, but for the most part our own efforts dictate whether we survive or go under.
So, perhaps we should ask a follow up to The Big Question: “If not, who’s fault is it?”
You will find a version of the essay above, as well as writing on similar and related topics in our book, Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm by Mark A. Zeiger. The published version is expanded, clarified, or updated from what you have just read.